By Anderson C. Sunda
“Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.” That was the message of a recent mosaic project completed at a family night at Maurice Bowling Middle School (Owen County).
The main purpose of the evening was for students to lead conferences with their parents and families, in which they could show off their leadership notebooks. This is part of the Leader in Me program, which encourages goal setting and cultivates leadership and decision-making skills in students. I saw this as an opportunity to bring families together to create a collaborative art piece.
At the Leader in Me night, each family received a tile carved using scrap earthenware clay left over from a previous ceramics unit and glazed with an inexpensive low-fire, blue glaze. Each family received one tile, a couple of gold and silver paint pens and the following prompt: design a unique star that represents your family.
The families also were given scratch paper for sketches and ideas and they were free to interpret the prompt however they wanted. Parents and students sketched and planned together to come up with a wide variety of designs and each star is unique to each family.
Once completed, the tiles were mounted on half-inch plywood using clear silicone. I sealed the mosaic with polyurethane and had it bolted to the wall. When pieced together, the tiles created a beautiful star mosaic. The theme of the art work expresses the importance of family and community guidance in shaping tomorrow’s leaders.
This project only cost about $60 in materials to make using scrap clay and required a kiln. The same project could be done on plastic, wood, plaster or anything on which paint can be applied.
The quote by Army Gen. Omar N. Bradley – “Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.” – was integrated into the mosaic because it expresses the ideal that parents and guardians, mentors and teachers should serve as guiding lights for students. Raising and teaching students to be future leaders is a team effort, consisting of parents, teachers and the wider community. Projects like this help to solidify that team.
When families collaborate on an artwork such as this, it creates a sense of ownership and a feeling that we are all on the same team and have the same aspirations for our students. That sense of ownership and togetherness is essential to creating a climate in which teachers and parents can work collaboratively and effectively to help our students succeed.
Anderson C. Sunda is an art teacher at Maurice Bowling Middle School (Owen County).